New program targets childhood obesity

By BRAD GASKINS / Staff Writer

COLUMBIANA – The Shelby County Children’s Policy Council Health Committee is launching a pilot program targeting childhood obesity.

“Be Healthy! Be Happy!” is a collaboration of several community agencies, organizations and professional volunteers working together to educate and promote a healthier lifestyle for Shelby County children and families.

Ten Shelby County families with at least one child, between the ages of 9 and 14, with obesity tendencies will be selected to participate in the free 13-week program hosted by Jeff State’s Shelby County Campus in Hoover.

The program is scheduled to begin in September. Families will participate one night a week exercising, preparing healthy family meals and learning about nutrition, exercise, recipes and mental health.

“Although Shelby County is one of the healthiest in the state, it doesn’t mean there’s not a problem with childhood obesity,” said Barbara Williams, coordinator of the children’s policy coordinator. “We took on this project as an area of need.”

The program will use a curriculum developed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health. “BodyWorks” focuses on helping families create healthier lifestyle.

“Be Healthy! Be Happy!” focuses on parents as role models and provides parents with tools and support to create a healthy lifestyle for their kids.

Parents who enroll in the program will receive a “BodyWorks” toolkit and attend regular group meetings to help maintain behavior. The toolkit includes a video on healthy shopping and cooking strategies, a recipe book, food and fitness journals, a weekly meal planner refrigerator magnet and more.

In addition to participants, who must live in Shelby County, the program is also looking for contributing sponsors to donate funding for fresh foods for weekly meals, door prizes, gym memberships and motivational products.

To sign up, or for more information, call Williams at 669-3831 or Bonnie Bradley at 497-3704.